Hilton Head Island
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LOCAL Life Magazine published an article in their January 2024 edition highlighting Marc Orlando, Hilton Head Island's Town Manager. Thank you LOCAL Life for this special feature.
Marc Orlando's journey to the role of Hilton Head town manager wasn't always a straight line. Starting out as an intern with the Town all the way back in 1997, he worked his way up to senior planner before the siren song of the private sector began to ring in his ears. At least for a while.
"I found myself just always wanting to do more. I'd focused on more entrepreneurial work — software start-up, finance, real estate development, asset management… then the economy turned," he said. "It was at that time that I went and worked with the Town of Bluffton and found my calling. I also realized where I can make a really important difference."
As deputy town manager and then town manager for Bluffton, he arrived at a time of immense change for the once one-square-mile town. Beyond the pressures of a booming population and the challenge that brings in keeping the May River clean, Bluffton also made it a point to expand its economic base. Orlando's steadfast guidance delivered on all fronts, managing the growth, master-planning Old Town and advancing Buckwalter Commerce Park while establishing assets like the Don Ryan Center for Innovation and working with the private sector. For his efforts he was recognized by the state legislature for his visionary leadership in 2012.
In returning to Hilton Head as town manager, he's brought that visionary leadership home.
"We've been really clear to put together a strategic plan that is aligned with our future, our comprehensive plan and our goals," he said. "For me, I'm looking at 2024 as a breakthrough year."
First on the agenda is workforce housing, perhaps the hottest of hot-button issues in the region. Through a public-private partnership, the Town will launch Northpoint, sustainable workforce housing on 12 acres between Jarvis Creek and the north end post office.
Along with an overhaul of the Land Management Ordinance, which has been nearly a decade in the making, Orlando is targeting this year to establish a resilience plan.
"We have several of those plans in place, but nothing collective, nothing comprehensive, where it's policy and project-based," he said. "We have a robust resilience program already in place, but the planning and implementation are piecemeal. Our resilience plan will examine the island's ability to be resilient in times of real storm."
This coming year also will see the kick-off to a massive project aimed at reinvesting in the island's parks, whether that means expanding parking at Chaplin Park (thus ending the soccer players versus beachgoers feud that has been slowly simmering for years) or creating spaces for families.
"It's time for a renaissance of our public spaces, roads and beach facilities," he said. "We're working on a lot of those details to bring our parks to current-day, modern-day standard. And, of course, we have to tackle the William Hilton gateway bridge."
One of the stickier situations involving the bridge stems from the communities that would be forever altered in order to ease traffic, something Orlando is very aware of.
"There are residents and businesses on the side of that street coming onto and off of our island that have been there for generations. And this roadway will definitely impact their quality of life," he said. "So the question becomes, what are those impacts? And how are we — Beaufort County and the SC Department of Transportation — addressing those matters?"
Creating community The Northpoint initiative is a public-private partnership strategy to develop sustainable workforce housing on more than 12 acres of town-owned property between Jarvis Creek and the north end post office on Hilton Head Island. The initiative will help address the island's need for more housing for its workforce and at the same time, create a vibrant, well-constructed and livable neighborhood.
Sun, sand and strategy Marc Orlando has been the town manager of Hilton Head Island since February 2021. He directs the administration of Town departments, implements policies and projects and oversees 300 employees. He lives on the island with his wife, Jaclyn, and their two children, Emmy and Ben.
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